Whenever a game developer releases a new product, there will be difficulties with that product for a while after initial release. No amount of beta testing on the PC can prepare a developer for every single eventuality when the product is released. Blizzard is a company that is known for releasing a quality product that will play well across a broad spectrum of computers and configurations. This effect is also now being seen on the latest generation of console games, with blockbuster titles like Modern Warfare 2. There are/were several exploits in MW2 that lasted for a few months after release, and whenever an exploit was patched another would pop up.
Beyond that, there are several things that the average user overlooks when a new game comes out and they find that their system doesn’t quite work 100% correctly with it or doesn’t work at all, unexpectedly.
First, you need to be aware of the minimum required specifications. Save your money if you don’t meet them, but expect poor performance if you barely meet the minimum specs, and expect decent to good performance if you meet the recommended specs.
Link to the Official Minimum Specs:
A lot of headaches are caused by out of date drivers. All computer hardware requires drivers to make a particular piece of software work with the game and the OS. Updating your drivers is important. Any updates should be available from the computer manufacturer if you are using a pre-built PC, or from the manufacturer of a particular piece of hardware.
Video Card drivers are a special case, most often when dealing with video cards updating them can lead to other issues. It is for this reason that I highly recommend that you completely remove all traces of your video drivers before reinstalling them.
Here’s a tutorial.
Download an application called Driver Sweeper, available for free from Guru3d.
It is available here: http://www.guru3d.com/category/driversweeper/
Now, uninstall your video driver suite through Remove Programs, then open Device Manager and uninstall your video device. Check the box for deleting the driver from the PC. This will cause your screen to change to a much lower resolution, but that’s ok. Now, run Driver Sweeper and select it to scan for Manufacturer-Display, being ATI or NVIDIA depending on what card you have. Then click clean for the same. Be careful not to remove your chipset drivers or PhysX software, since it is possible to do so with this app. This will remove every single bit of data on your old drivers, including registry entries. To double check it is all gone; you can reboot into Safe Mode and run the app again to see if it missed anything while the old drivers were loaded. I skip that step personally, since I have found that the app rarely misses anything with Catalyst drivers.
Now reinstall the latest WHQL certified drivers, reboot and you should be good to go. I know for a fact that this method cures BSOD with a 5970 on a fresh install of 10.7a drivers and fixed some Crossfire issues I had with this card.
Sound drivers are equally notorious for causing system lockups and issues, but it’s not as obvious that this is the issue when they cause an error. Your sound card manufacturer, or motherboard manufacturer (in the case of onboard sound devices) should have the latest drivers for your card. Guru3d hosts many of the updated sound drivers for onboard cards in their downloads section, and File Hippo has the latest Realtek AC’97 and HD Audio drivers, check with your motherboard manufacturer to ensure you install the correct sound drivers.
File Hippo: http://www.filehippo.com
The same goes for your chipset drivers. Your system manufacturer will have all of the updated chipset drivers available for download from their site.
Now, onto the fun stuff! Dust is the bane of the power PC user. Any sensible person knows that dust is unavoidable and will collect in your PC. Blowing it out with a can of compressed air regularly will help, but after time there will be some parts of your PC you will want to pay extra attention to.
When I open my case, I check all of the fans for signs of dust and for signs of failure. All fans should be able to spin freely and similarly. Any fans that are difficult to turn, or stop spinning much faster than the other will need to be replaced. Proper airflow is vital for cooling the modern PC. Today’s technology is much hotter than previous generations, and too much heat inside the case can affect all of the hardware’s performance.
Check the CPU heatsink. This is often the most overlooked area of the PC. People make sure the fan is clean, but the cooling fins are often caked with dust. Spray it out vigorously to get a majority, or all of the dust out of the cooling fins, this will drastically drop temperatures on your CPU and help improve performance.
Check the video card. Most modern high end cards have coolers on them that collect dust too. Blow them out. I recommend removing them from the mother board in order to get the best cleaning on them as possible.
Check the PSU (Power Supply). I’ll say it right now. The PSU really is one of the most important pieces of hardware on your system. When you make an investment in building a PC, or upgrading a component, your PSU needs to be a quality branded one. I recommend Corsair, as their PSU’s are rock solid, in whatever wattage you need. Wattage is not the only important number you need to pay attention to though. Most modern video cards require at least 25 Amps on the 12v rail and the previous generations of PSU’s standard is 18A. The sticker on the side of your PSU will break down all of the critical information, like the number of 12v rails contained in the PSU and the amps each rail provides. I prefer single railed PSU’s and the one I am using now cranks out 850W @ 72 amps on the rail, well within the spec of modern video cards. Keep in mind that as a PSU ages, it loses some of its capacity and will eventually fail. This is known as PSU droop. If you want to know more about it, Google or Bing will tell you.
Lastly, if you still have problems beyond what is listed here and you want the community to be able to help you, feel free to ask any question you like, but include your systems specs as best you can.
AMD Phenom II x 4 965 BE
ASUS Crosshair III: Formula
8GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 @ 1333mhz (model number here may help, usually printed on a label)
ASUS HD5970 w Cat10.7a
SoundBlaster Titanium X-Fi (or onboard)
OS (Win7 Ultimate 64 Bit)
Computer Manufacturer and Model Number if prebuilt, also try to list any installed upgrades and the OS.
This information will make it much easier for Blizzard and us enthusiasts to help you out.